Pirates Prospects 2017 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects

The Pirates have seen a lot of players graduate from prospect status in the last year. Just during the 2017 season, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Trevor Williams, and Jose Osuna have graduated from prospect status. They join guys like Jameson Taillon, Adam Frazier, and Chad Kuhl from 2016. A few of those guys (Taillon, Bell, Glasnow) were at the top of the system, while the others have consistently ranked in the top 50 or top 30 prospects in the past.

Losing those players definitely provides a hit to the farm system rankings, although that’s not really a bad thing. It doesn’t hurt the Pirates that guys like Taillon and Bell are producing in the majors, and under control for five more seasons beyond 2017, instead of boosting their farm system rankings.

The challenge here is that the Pirates do need to continue having a strong farm system, as that means they will continue having a pipeline of talent coming to Pittsburgh in the future. Fortunately, they’ve maintained a strong farm system even after all of the promotions in the last year.

The disclaimer here is that the makeup of the system is a lot different. The system right now isn’t as top-heavy as it was in the past, especially when Taillon, Bell, and Glasnow were part of the current prospect group. But the depth throughout the system is strong, and when putting the rankings together, we noticed a lot of depth in the middle of the system, with guys around the top 30 who would normally be in the top 20, and several guys outside the top 50 who could easily be on this list.

The lack of top-heavy talent may also be a short-term thing. The Pirates went heavy on prep players during the 2017 draft. They went heavy on prep pitchers in 2016. They also have a few international prospects who are showing promise in the lower levels. So while the top of the system is thinner now than in years past, there are a lot of options in the lower levels who can emerge in a few years to make up a new top-heavy system.

Below you will find our mid-season top 50 prospects for the Pirates’ system. As usual, we separated the rankings into tiers, which I prefer over numerical rankings. The goal of the tiers is to give a better idea of talent, showing that there is a gap between the second and third best prospects, but not as much of a gap between the third and sixth best prospect. In some cases, such as tier 3, you could have a guy ranked as a top ten prospect by one person, and ranked outside of the top ten by someone else, with the difference coming down to personal preferences on floors, ceilings, and/or positional values.

Each player includes a link to the latest analysis on that player, with most of those articles coming in the last few weeks. This level of information is unparalleled by any other outlet. You won’t find anywhere else with the depth and availability of knowledge on these prospects, and in most cases, you won’t find the latest updates and developments we have on each prospect.

All of the information we are able to gather is a direct result of our subscription model, allowing us to pay writers to be on the ground in every minor league city, getting those updates that no one else has or cares to cover. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up now to get access to our full top 50 rankings, along with analysis on all 50 prospects on this list. And by subscribing, you not only get all of this info, but you help fuel our efforts to continue getting more information that you can’t find anywhere else.

Tier 1

1. Mitch Keller – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
2. Austin Meadows – Breaking Down Why Austin Meadows is Struggling to Hit in Triple-A This Year

Tier 2

3. Shane Baz – Getting to Know Those Pirates Over-Slot Prep Pitchers From the 2017 Draft
4. Cole Tucker – Cole Tucker is Starting to Show Why the Pirates Have Been So High on His Potential
5. Kevin Newman – Kevin Newman Has a Shortstop Problem, and It’s Not What You Think
6. Ke’Bryan Hayes – Top Third Base Prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes Showing Steady Progression

Tier 3

7. Will Craig – Will Craig Has Made Nice Progress This Year With His Swing and First Base Defense
8. Elias Diaz – Elias Diaz is the Catcher of the Future, But When is That Future?
9. Taylor Hearn – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
10. Gage Hinsz – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
11. Calvin Mitchell – The Pirates Added Some Promising Outfield Prospects in the 2017 Draft
12. Braeden Ogle – Left-Handed Pitcher Braeden Ogle Taking Steps Forward in Bristol
13. Edgar Santana – The Book on Edgar Santana
14. Kevin Kramer – It Took Opposing Teams Six Weeks to Figure Out How to Keep Kevin Kramer Off the Bases
15. Steven Brault – Steven Brault is Looking Like He Belongs in the Majors Right Now
16. Clay Holmes – “I think you’re watching the evolution of a talented pitcher.”

Tier 4

17. Jordan Luplow – Jordan Luplow Hopes to Follow Family Footsteps to Pittsburgh
18. Luis Escobar – Luis Escobar Heads to the Futures Game, While Holding Back His Own Future
19. Max Kranick – Small Adjustments For Max Kranick
20. Steven Jennings – Getting to Know Those Pirates Over-Slot Prep Pitchers From the 2017 Draft
21. Adrian Valerio – Despite the Missed Time, Adrian Valerio is Showing Offensive and Defensive Improvements
22. Nick Kingham – The Final Steps For Nick Kingham and Dovydas Neverauskas
23. Conner Uselton – The Pirates Added Some Promising Outfield Prospects in the 2017 Draft

Tier 5

24. Max Moroff – Max Moroff Has Seen an Increase in Power This Year
25. Dovydas Neverauskas – The Final Steps For Nick Kingham and Dovydas Neverauskas
26. Eric Wood – Eric Wood and Erich Weiss Continue to Improve as the Season Moves Along
27. Eduardo Vera – Eduardo Vera Comes Roaring Back from Tommy John Surgery
28. Logan Hill – A Simplified Swing Led to Logan Hill Powering His Way to Altoona
29. Tyler Eppler – Tyler Eppler May Have Found a New Primary Off-Speed Pitch
30. Lolo Sanchez – The Pirates May Have Another Wave of International Hitting Prospects Emerging
31. Dario Agrazal – Dario Agrazal Could Be More Than a Sinkerball Specialist With Newly Improved Slider

Tier 6

32. Brandon Waddell – Waddell and Barnes Work Their Way Back from Second Injuries
33. Pedro Vasquez – Updates on All Five Starters in the Prospect Heavy Bradenton Rotation
34. Oddy Nunez – A Tall, Left-Handed Starting Pitcher to Watch in West Virginia
35. Connor Joe – An Up and Down 2017 Season For Connor Joe
36. JT Brubaker – JT Brubaker is Emerging as Another Hard Throwing Starting Pitching Prospect
37. Chris Bostick – Christopher Bostick is Performing at High Level On and Off the Field
38. Dylan Busby – Pirates Add an Intriguing Group of College Bats in 2017 Draft
39. Domingo Robles – Domingo Robles, the Pirates’ Top International Pitcher in 2014, is Emerging as a Prospect
40. Travis MacGregor – 2016 Second Rounder Travis MacGregor Embracing the Developmental Focus in Bristol

Tier 7

41. Alex McRae – Alex McRae Continues to Prove Prospect Rankings Wrong
42. Wyatt Mathisen – Weight Loss Proves to Be Pivotal for Wyatt Mathisen During All-Star Campaign
43. Mitchell Tolman – How Mitchell Tolman Has Been One of the Hottest Hitters in the System Lately
44. Cody Bolton – Getting to Know Those Pirates Over-Slot Prep Pitchers From the 2017 Draft
45. Jake Brentz – The Pirates Have a Lefty Reliever Who Hits 100 MPH Moving Up in the System
46. Jeremias Portorreal – The Pirates May Have Another Wave of International Hitting Prospects Emerging
47. Barrett Barnes – Waddell and Barnes Work Their Way Back from Second Injuries
48. Stephen Alemais – Stephen Alemais is Moving Toward an Adam Frazier Approach at the Plate
49. Yeudy Garcia – Yeudy Garcia Moving to the Bullpen
50. Christian Kelley – The Pirates Have Some Catching Prospects Developing Behind Elias Diaz

In Tier 7, Outside the Top 50 (Sorted Alphabetically): Tanner Anderson, Blake Cederlind, Sergio Cubilete, Edwin Espinal, Tristan Gray, Jin-De Jhang, Edison Lantigua, Mason Martin, Gift Ngoepe, Jared Oliva, Hunter Owen, Ike Schlabach, Austin Shields, Deon Stafford, Jacob Stallings, Jerrick Suiter, Cam Vieaux, Jacob Webb, Erich Weiss, Daniel Zamora

  • Roughly where would Oneil Cruz fall in this list if updated today ?

  • What has made Tanner Anderson such an effective starter at AA this year?

  • BallHeadWonder
    July 20, 2017 7:25 pm

    Love the list!! Question?? Just to help my ignorance, since DuRapau’s promotion to Indy, is he not AT LEAST a 7th tier prospect??? He has performed at every level. Is the list based on potential?? Is the list based on best chance to make it to Pittsburgh??

    Great list!! Can some players be higher or lower?? Yes!! That’s the beauty of debate!!

  • What sort of 25 man Roster crunch are the Pirates facing for 2018? The 40 man roster rules seem pretty easy to understand, but why was a guy like Hanson out of options this year? And what about some of the Pirates upper level starting pitchers, like Brault, Kingham and Holmes? Do any of those minor league pitchers have to make the big league squad next year?

  • Surprised Inoa and Apostel didn’t make it into Tier 7 at least. Maybe at the end of the year.

  • I know just about nothing about this stuff,
    but I was surprised that Baz is so high already.
    We have had so many top picks not really develop
    I guess I need to see this kid play.

    The other was Neverauskas.
    He seemed usable in his short time in Pittsburgh.

  • A little disappointed in Busby’s spot. Was hoping he had more of a Luplow upside.

  • Agree that Cole deserves spot over Newman. I like Weiss too and feel he is top 50.

  • When I look at Tier 1 & 2 players, I see poor performance and injury reports scattered throughout. Really hoping Meadows and Newman can salvage what can only be described as extremely frustrating seasons.

    I do love the quality depth of ascending SP in the organization. Would love to see them leverage this for a middle of order 3B either this month, or this winter.

  • This remains a deep system.

    • Player development should be complimented, imho. Guys like Luplow, Mathison, etc have made big jumps. Can’t say the same for the guys that dropped (Joe, Barnes, Meadows, to some degree), but I think they’ve done a pretty good job overall.

  • Bill Harvey
    July 19, 2017 6:34 pm

    Not sure where to post this, so an article on prospects is it I guess.

    By waiting until the end of the Brewers series to decide on if he wanted to be a buyer or seller, NH has missed out on most of the available trade candidates that could have helped the team. So in essence, if we are not sellers in 2 days, there is nothing left to buy.

    Not that this could have been Forseen, but this trade market has developed very rapidly.

  • Bill Harvey
    July 19, 2017 6:05 pm

    Luplow is a top 10 prospect in my book. I realize that his defense probably brings him down, but right now I don’t see a better bat in the system. I say that having never seen him play, so.

    Good to see my boy Logan fricking Hill crack the top 50, although I probably wouldn’t have put him there.

    • “…I don’t see a better bat in the system. I say that having never seen him play, so”. So? You don’t see a better bat, but you haven’t seen him play. So it’s all stats? I think I’m going to agree with the folks that did the rankings that actually have seen him play. I mean, they did move him up.

      • Bill Harvey
        July 19, 2017 7:52 pm

        So, at the same levels where the presumed best bat in the system seems to have run into trouble, the guy I like has taken off. Yes it is based on stats alone, but in my defense, they are some good stats.

  • Wow! Kingham has dropped to #22! Good to see Luplow #17. In being consistent, I am probably in the minority but I agree with BA not ranking Craig in the Top 10. I like that Mitchell is at #11.

    No Tristan Gray?? 🙂

    It is always risky to rate guys that were just drafted high or low, because you never know how they’ll adjust to the grind. But, I guess you have to put them somewhere.

    Overall, another great job by the trio.

  • I have noticed in the annual guides that tiers appear to include a group like: Low Risk of 4.5, Med Risk of 5.0, and High Risk of 5.5 (for example). That variability might make it difficult but have you considered putting the ratings in with the tiers – somehow?

    I ask because it would help me visualize the state of the farm system better that you mentioned at the beginning of the article. For instance, my guess would be that Newman dropped a tier from year end but he is still in tier ‘2’. So is there just a bigger gap between 1 and 2? Or did Tucker et al join Newman in tier 2? And since Craig and Santana don’t appear to have dramatically changed their status, I am curious if Craig dropped into Santana’s tier or Santana rose into Craig’s.

  • wonder why Luplow is not rated higher. Might be the best power hitting prospect in the system and doesn’t do to bad average wise either. I know PP questions his fielding ability but can he be worse then Polanco?

  • Love the list and the discussions it has generated. I’m just going to put a plug in for Elias Diaz to be even higher than he is since I think he should be the current every day started with the Buccos today…or at least 50/50 with Cervelli.

    • I would say he is a low risk of being a 5.0. That would have put him (I think) in a tier with Kevin Newman at the beginning of the season’s rankings

  • Loved the article. Little curious to the reasoning for Elvis Escobar dropping off the top 50 and even as a tier 7 player. Seems to be putting up similar numbers to last year, plays a premium OF position, and seems to be young for his level.

    • Wilbur Miller
      July 19, 2017 5:33 pm

      Speaking just for myself, it’s partly the numbers and partly what I’ve seen. Escobar has never made any real progress with the results and is pretty much hitting the same now as he did in his AA stint last year. I’ve seen him a lot over the years and I’ve never really liked him much. I don’t think his approach at the plate is very good. He doesn’t recognize slower stuff all that well and he generally seems overwhelmed against pitchers with good stuff.

  • Glad to see Luplow and Hill on the list. Two similar players who could have major league careers. Jose Osuna was ranked 43’d on this list last year…
    You guys think Luplow gets a September callup?

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 3:27 pm

      Don’t think so for the Luplow September callup. More likely you see him at some point next year if all goes well.

  • Travis MacGregor and Austin Shields have really fallen off from where they were this time last year. I think those two standout as disappointments from the 2016 draft so far. Ogle and Kranick are still holding their ground.

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 3:26 pm

      Shields was a tough one to rate because he was headed for improving on the list before he was shutdown with arm tightness. It was such a minor injury and he barely missed any throwing, but when he returned, his control was really poor. Before he got hurt, he was pitching great in Extended Spring Training. If he can find that rhythm again, then he will be back in the top 50. The problem with assuming he will is that it has been two months now since that happened. Plus he had another minor “injury” (minor skin infection) which caused him to dial back recently. We are talking two very minor injuries with him, things you’re only finding out about because we look into everything, so that didn’t really play a part.

      MacGregor has the potential to move up, and in a way he sort of did because the reports from late April/early May were very bad. He stopped pitching in games at one point. So he is better now than back in May,

  • The article is not only interesting, but thought provoking as well. I think it speaks well for the community as a whole, which not only respects the writers, but can offer insight or questions which others can participate without the infighting prevelant on some other sites.

    • Good comment. Wanted to give more than 1 like if I could. That’s what makes this site first class.

  • DangerWilRobnsn
    July 19, 2017 2:31 pm

    So a more general question: For anyone who makes a list such as this after having been in a minor league system for more than two years, short of injury, how many will actually reach the majors for more than a cup of coffee?

    • Might be a good article looking back at the previous lists, especially since we have eight years worth of rankings to look at.

      • Tell me it hasn’t been 8 years!
        Tim, is it possible to tell who in those 8 years has been the most positive surprise and in the other direction, who has been the most disappointing?

        • This is actually the 9th year covering the system. We didn’t do a prospect ranking the first year though.

          My favorite stories are the ones like Alex Presley, where a guy who just doesn’t look like a prospect at all turns into a Major Leaguer.

          The situations where we are disappointed by a ranking are actually learning opportunities. Exicardo Cayones was the biggest one early on. We ranked him high based on the stats and signing bonus, but hadn’t seen him. When I first saw him, he was so small and didn’t look like a prospect. He dropped after that, and we didn’t rank anyone who we hadn’t seen live after that.

  • So… where would Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez have slotted into these rankings?
    Tito Polo was just traded Yankees->Chisox yesterday. Care to speculate where he might have fit in?

    • Darkstone42
      July 19, 2017 2:11 pm

      I heard Polo won’t be in the Sox top 30, according to BA, but then again, the Sox have an absolutely loaded system, so I’m not sure that actually tells you anything.

    • No to all three. Haven’t seen them in a year, and we don’t have updated info on them. The last I looked, Ramirez and McGuire were both struggling in Double-A, and McGuire was injured. I’ve also received a few questions from scouts asking if McGuire’s arm strength was down prior to the trade, which isn’t really a good sign. But I can’t say where he or the others would rank, since we don’t put much thought into guys who left the system.

      • doing exactly as you should. Once a player leaves the system, it’s really not worth your time to track him to see if the trade was good or not (although it’s certainly a good conversation starter). Focus on our boys, tis the only thing that matters.

  • One more question, is Shane Baz as good as advertised? I guess what I’m asking is what made you guys think he’s in the top of Tier 2 already. (Not complaining, I love that you guys see high potential in him because that means we drafted a good one)

    • I happened to see his worst start, but we got some great reports from the other outings. I’m hoping to get a better view of him in the upcoming weeks. The reports we’ve received from his outings so far match what made him a top draft prospect, which leads to the ranking.

  • Can’t argue with anyone you ranked, but find it hard to understand why #43 hasn’t made the list. Shouldn’t results matter just as much as height, weight, speed, etc?

    • #43?

      • Darkstone42
        July 19, 2017 2:11 pm

        Connor Sheary?

      • Montana DuRapau

        • We’re typically lower on relievers. If you look at the list, there are only three true relievers right now. Two of them are in Triple-A with upper-90s stuff. The other is a lefty who consistently hits 99-100 MPH.

          DuRapau doesn’t have that stuff, but he does have good numbers. However, those numbers come in his second season in Double-A. We’d need to see him having success for an extended period in Triple-A before moving him up.

          All of us rated him as a guy with the ceiling to reach the majors as a middle reliever. However, we don’t rate middle relievers high on this list, unless there is nearly zero risk involved, and he’s not there yet.

          • I understand, but having the potential to make it to the major leagues as a productive player in any capacity has to have value somewhere in the rating process.

            • It depends on the role. Most middle relievers are replacement level, since there are many other players who can do the same thing at around the same value. A bench player might have 0.5 WAR, or maybe a bit less, but is harder to replace. A back end starter could be 1 WAR or more. It’s not about reaching the majors, but the value you could provide.

    • Look again. He’s between #42 and #44

  • Three questions…
    1. Sometimes it feels that ceiling outweighs floor – as in Diaz who just recently made his way to the top ten, Stallings who will have a better MLB career than probably a third of the guys in front of him, and even Wood who appears to be an old school 3B (low avg, good fielding, some power). Do you feel that is accurate? Or am I too confident in these players floors?
    2. I’m not sure that I always get the “injury penalty” prospects rankings. When they are persistent (like Barnes, I get it). But TJ guys like Taillon previously and Kingham who in a recent write up was seen to be close to turning the corner both were devalued as they progressed in their recoveries. Or players like Alemais who don’t get a chance to improve or get worse drop in rankings. Is the main issue lost development time? Or the fact that they are becoming less age appropriate for their position? Or just the risk that they might not recover?
    3. Finally, how hard is it for you guys to avoid dreaming of the positives and over ranking some of these prospects? I often hear us subscribers talk of a favorite to succeed (I’ve got my eye on Oddy Nunez and Jerrick Suiter.)

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:45 pm

      I’ll answer #2: Kingham wasn’t devalued for his injury, other than a slight downgrade while he was recovering. Kingham’s drop here is based on what we have seen this year. Alemais put up some fairly poor Low-A numbers before his injury, and that’s from someone who probably should have started in Bradenton (job opening aside of course) due to his age/experience.

    • 1. It’s a balance. We grade every prospect on floor, ceiling, and likely upside (what we think they will become, typically below their ceiling). We try to combine those the best that we can in order to get everyone on an even playing field. We then look at individual cases and adjust players up and down. This process would probably make a good article, and is something I can’t fully explain here.
      2. We didn’t downgrade Taillon or Kingham after Tommy John. In fact, I was arguing in favor of Taillon that he shouldn’t drop due to his injuries, and that he still would be a top of the rotation guy. Kingham only dropped now because the stuff has dropped, and not because of the injury. Alemais dropped because of the strikeout issues and the questions with the bat, and not the injury. We’ll also drop a guy if his injury makes it less likely he can have a future MLB career, such as when it takes a guy from age appropriate to being old for the level, although that didn’t apply in those cases. We’re typically forgiving with injuries, and only drop people when multiple injuries come up, like with Barnes.
      3. With so much going into the rankings, and so many opinions, we are able to balance the scales with this. For example, I love what I’ve seen from Calvin Mitchell, and originally wanted to rank him 8th. John and Wilbur talked me down a bit, holding off on that ranking until he has more of a track record. And the same could be said about guys that John was high on, or guys that Wilbur was high on. Then there are guys that I know Brian, Sean, and Abbey have noted were doing very well, and some recent reports from John Eshleman. We try to factor all of that in, so the opinion of one person doesn’t dominate the rankings.

      • “Kingham only dropped now because the stuff has dropped, and not because of the injury.”

        How can one possibly differentiate a drop in stuff from a major arm injury less than 100 innings back to action? Highly questionable.

        • You can’t, which is why you drop him based on present stuff, and then move him back up if it returns

        • Because we’ve seen him every step of the way in his return, we’ve seen other players through the same process, and determined that he has some current issues beyond the normal Tommy John return. At a certain point you wait for a guy to show you he can improve on current issues, rather than chalking it up to the injury. Kingham reached that this year.

      • I would agree that the rankings decision article would be a good read

  • N/A

  • I am astounded that Tristan Gray did not make the top 50. One of the writers on this site said he is playing like a first rounder (SSS I know).
    A D1 middle IF’er with OPS above 1000 out of the gate… I think this is a mistake.

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:39 pm

      Very small sample size and doesn’t outweigh at least four years of scouting before the draft. He has three years at Rice, three years of summer league ball and he was a known commodity out of high school and that led to him going in the 13th round.

  • My question is about someone outside tier 7. Daniel Zamora is in Bradenton and am wondering if he finishes the year out there? He doesn’t have much of a fastball, but his numbers suggest that he is ready to move on. Any thoughts on him?

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:35 pm

      I think Zamora has a great chance to be a lefty specialist, but when that is someone’s upside, it’s hard to rank them high until they prove it in Triple-A. His fastball plays up because his slider is a plus pitch against lefties. The big break on it doesn’t work as well against right-handed batters though, and the 89-90 MPH doesn’t play up either. He is a good pitcher though, with a legit chance at making the majors.

      • Thank you for the response. I believe he is properly ranked. I guess I was just wondering if he would get a shot at Altoona this year or will he have to wait until next year?

        • I could see it happening this year.

        • John Dreker
          July 19, 2017 2:46 pm

          It’s possible he gets promoted. I think Seth McGarry will be the next one up, so I’m not sure if two more relievers get promoted. He will be there next year if not, so getting a short stay in Altoona this season won’t change his timetable.

    • I talked with a scout earlier in the year who really liked Zamora and saw him as a future big leaguer, even if it was just a depth role. While he doesn’t have a lot of velocity, he makes up for that with his off-speed stuff, movement, and a ton of deception.

  • Stonecipher
    July 19, 2017 1:20 pm

    Meadows, Keller and Baz seem like the clear top three right now. I’m inclined to lower expectations on Newman at this point. With the lack of power, he needs to be a high avg/obp guy, and he’s not doing that this year. That said, there aren’t prospects in the organization that demand to be considered top 5 in the system. But I’m more intrigued by other bats in the system like Luplow, Espinal, Kramer & Craig.

  • bold prediction cody bolton will be better than steve jenning.

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:23 pm

      That’s not as bold as you think. Someone who has seen both pitch this year said that they are very similar pitchers right now. Just told me that last night.

  • Why isn’t Edwin Espinal higher up? I’m new to this, just subscribed a few months ago and only recently started following the minor leagues, but I got to see him play in altoona and seems like he’s putting up good numbers.

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:27 pm

      He is repeating Double-A and putting up somewhat similar numbers, with slightly more power. It’s a position that demands a lot of hitting though. His defense is average, his speed is below average, the power is average with potential for more, doesn’t walk a lot.

      Not that it affects his rankings, but I’ll note that he is a free agent at the end of the season, so he may not be around much longer.

  • Gage Hinsz: you guys seem to be the high water mark. I was surprised to see him ranked ahead of some guys closer to the majors (Holmes, Brault) and some young guys with upside (Ogle, Jennings). What’s the big differentiator with Gage?

    • I get a lot of questions and positive evaluations about him from scouts. He has also shown some good trends with his fastball control, and the curveball is getting more consistent, and is a plus pitch when it is on. From a numbers standpoint, I think he will start to show in the next year why we have been so high on him.

  • Great work guys. I have questions for sure and here they are:

    1. Kelley ranked in tier 7. Seems kinda odd since all reports is he is a legitimate prospect with a great hit and defense tool. Why so low?
    2. I realize Holmes is coming back from TJ, but he has been inconsistent all year and hasn’t shown a prolonged stretch of success. What do y’all see for him to be in Tier 3?
    3. Hayes had a great rookie ball year, but beyond that, he has been injured and doesn’t show enough power to be considered an above average 3B. Is it his age or his projection that makes him a Tier 2 prospect?
    4. Last one, Kramer in Tier 3? Dude was raking and showing his ability that seemed to make him a higher level prospect. Is the injury keeping him from that Tier 2?

    • 1. I’d like to see the hit tool translate more to games. Right now I think the defense will take him to the majors as a Stallings type at the least. He could be able to hit enough to be a backup catcher, but I want to see it more before ranking him higher on the list. Also, #50 in this list is still strong. Might be the equivalent of 35-40 range in previous lists.
      2. Holmes is in his first year of a sinker/slider combo, with both being relatively new pitches for him. He’s shown a lot of promise with those pitches, and while he has inconsistencies, I think that can be chalked up to the new approach, and the new level.
      3. Check the article on Hayes for my thoughts on his offense.
      4. If you’ve read my articles for the last year and a half, you’ll know that I’m really high on Kramer. I wouldn’t put him above tier 3 though, at least not until he had continued success. In a way, the injury hurts him, because it limited him to less than two months of hitting in Double-A.

      • Thanks Tim!

      • Wilbur Miller
        July 19, 2017 1:46 pm

        I actually suggested, only half in jest, that we do a top 60. There are usually guys I’d be fine dropping to fit others in but there weren’t this time.

        • You could definitely do that. There were several players outside of the top 50 who I thought needed to be in, but I also couldn’t find a guy who we should definitely remove. In the past, even in the pre-season rankings, it was a challenge finding someone for the final few spots.

    • meatygettingsaucy
      July 19, 2017 1:10 pm

      Replying to Pt.3 his age and projection make home Tier 2. His lack of power can be attributed to the fields he is playing on on the league. Homeruns are a rarity

      • Well not even the HRs. I mean gap power. Seems he is not hitting for those 2Bs.

        • John Dreker
          July 19, 2017 1:30 pm

          Hayes was injured during the end of the 2016 season, so that really cut into his off-season workouts. BA noted that he was in better shape, but I would disagree with that. He is lighter now, but he is not in better shape. He lost muscle from not being able to workout as much. If he has a healthy off-season this year, you will see better results. It’s hard to get stronger during the season while playing in the Bradenton heat.

  • I might be wrong (which I probably am) but wasn’t Kingham’s ceiling/floor higher than Holmes before? I guess I’m just surprised to see Holmes in top 10 for BA and being a tier higher in this ranking too

    • Holmes has taken some steps forward in the last year. Meanwhile, Kingham hasn’t returned to where he was prior to Tommy John. Kingham could get there again. But right now, Holmes returned from Tommy John and improved his game in a big way, while Kingham hasn’t returned to where he was in the past.

      • It’s the fastball command that’s missing from Kingham, right? Not the velocity?

        • John Dreker
          July 19, 2017 1:21 pm

          Command definitely isn’t where it was pre-injury and the velocity is down slightly from his peak. He has been very hittable this year, especially when his curve isn’t on.

          • Oh okay. That’s not good. I thought the velocity was there but the command was bad… I hope he recovers soon because he would be called up this September :S

            • John Dreker
              July 19, 2017 1:41 pm

              He will be called up I’m sure. He has no options left, so they need to get him some MLB time

  • Great Job as always, The one that I believe could become a starter in Pittsburgh Is Tristan Gray. I got to see him play a week or so ago and everything he did impressed me. I also think Ike Schlabach will be another one to watch as he climbs up the ladder.

  • Are your rankings based upon talent alone or do they take into consideration the needs of the organization? For example, Craig might be more valuable to an organization that has no real prospect in front of him at first base. In contrast, the Pirates have Bell plugged in at first for the long term plus Osuna and Espinal.

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:03 pm

      Need isn’t a consideration. If we think someone is a #5 starter, that’s for MLB in general, not the Pirates

      • Thank you for clarifying that. I would note that there’s a difference b/c rating the quality of talent in a system w/o consideration of the Pirates’ needs vs. evaluating the system in light of the Pirates’ needs. Tim’s intro included a statement about the importance of having a pipeline of talent coming to Pittsburgh. So it might be perfectly reasonable to look at the system from the standpoint of how it’s stacked up currently to fill the Pirates’ needs going forward. If you do that, it diminishes having Will Craig as your #5 prospect since he will likely end up being blocked by Bell and apparently can’t play anywhere else. On the other hand, if you look at the players in the minors purely as “assets” that can be used to fill needs with the big club, Craig might appear more valuable as a trade chip.

  • I forget how you put together this list.. does each writer submit separate lists and then you put the lists together? Or is there a meeting of sorts where you all reach a consensus on a prospects position? Either way: are there any players that led to debates among the writers as to where they should be on the list? (EX: one writer thinks a play should be tier 3 while another inks they should be tier 5)

    • John Dreker
      July 19, 2017 1:06 pm

      Actually both things happen. We submit separate lists for every single player in the system above the DSL, average them out, then discuss the rankings/tiers. It’s a long process, lots of group emails with ideas. Definitely some big differences between us, but that’s where the average ranking comes in.

      • Do you remember any of those guys off the top of your head?

        • John Dreker
          July 19, 2017 1:19 pm

          The differences are usually based on position value. Speaking for myself only, I’m not big on putting relievers too high. Some of the differences were eliminated when factoring in risk. If you take Brault as an example, his avg numbers had him lower, but he has a lot less risk than anyone not named Elias Diaz. So the discussions were more about where a player like that should go.

  • Great idea to include articles next to the names. Fine work by everyone involved. Much appreciated.
    Jake Brentz seems a little low at 45 considering his fastball. Is his control/second pitch that bad?

    • I’d like to see how he does in Altoona, specifically in the command department. We are typically lower on relievers, even with the stuff that Brentz has. He’s probably going to need to succeed in Double-A and Triple-A before moving way up on the list.

  • mike_carlini66
    July 19, 2017 12:43 pm

    Thanks for the great work guys. Definitely worth the price of admission.

  • Espinal Suiter Weiss are some decent players in tier 7

    • We had a lot of discussion about Suiter. He’s hitting for more power over the last six weeks, after adjusting his approach at the plate. He narrowed his stance during Spring Training, and added a bit of a load to his swing. It may be leading to more power. If he continues hitting like this, he’ll probably end up inside the top 50 at the end of the year.

  • Seems like Yeudy Garcia has fallen off as a starter, with the velocity drop does he still have potential as anything over a middle reliever?

    • The velocity drop is concerning, but even more concerning is the continued injuries. At this point I don’t think he can be durable enough to be a starter.

      • How much of a factor were Meadow’s continued injuries in his ranking?

        • The talent still outweighs the injuries, but there is definitely some concern. I think the injuries have overshadowed just how talented he is. However, they helped make Keller the top prospect in the system.

  • no martin in the top 50? i will not stand for this!

    • He is in tier 7, so you can pretend he is ranked as high as #41 if you want to

      • All that hype and Busby is all the way down to Tier 6………

        • John Dreker
          July 19, 2017 1:01 pm

          I don’t think anyone really hyped him. He was ranked around a 3rd-4th round pick due to power from a third baseman, but as the article points out, he clearly has a long swing with some work to do before anyone should get too excited. He had strikeout issues in college, so the scouting report basically matched what we have seen early on in his career. Doesn’t have plus defense or speed to help his case, so until he shows he can hit pro ball, there should be some caution with him.

          • I was referring to the will he or won’t he sign hype. There was a lot of that…………but while I have you – who was prospect that the 3 of you (I assume it was 3 of you) that had the biggest discrepancy in your rankings? You guys pretty much take the average ranking right?

            • John Dreker
              July 19, 2017 1:13 pm

              That signing hype was overblown, there wasn’t a chance he didn’t sign.

              It is average rankings, then we discuss the list afterwards for a few days. Not many real issues with the list once we broke it down into tiers. Just figuring out who goes where. Surprisingly, out of the top 50 players on the initial list of just average rankings, we agreed that 49 deserved to be on the list. Only one substitution was made and it was someone who was in tier 7 anyway.

              • That is the most resounding tidbit (the 49 of 50 item) I have gathered from this. It amazes me that you guys could be that much in agreement. Congratulations to all, especially knowing the effort that goes into it!

                • It was interesting how that happened. Typically the last ten spots involve us arguing different players on the list. The last five spots are used for guys who might not be the #45-50 guys, but who we want to feature.

                  In this case, we were all in agreement that there were no easy choices on guys to remove from the end of the list. There were guys who deserved to move up into the list. But then we’d be removing guys who also deserved to be there.

                  On the back end, this might be one of the deepest groups we’ve ranked.

          • I hope Busby turns out to be great, but I would have him behind Tristan Gray.

            • John Dreker
              July 19, 2017 1:33 pm

              If you’re talking just results since signing, then yes, Busby would be behind him. But for Gray to actually be a better prospect, you’re talking about a lot of scouts missing on him for him to get to the 13th round.

          • Wait… Busby signed?

    • WillyMoGarcia33
      July 19, 2017 12:53 pm

      Mason said he will not stand for this!!!! Hit an RBI double today, going 6 for 6 since his last out!

    • The challenge with mid-season rankings is that we try not to weigh short-term performances too much. We tend to look at live reports, tools, and skills. I haven’t seen Martin enough yet to get a good feel for whether his early start is an indication that his talent is higher than his draft position.

      • Wilbur Miller
        July 19, 2017 1:05 pm

        I think mid-season rankings are much harder for exactly this reason. It’s difficult to know what to do with a guy who was just drafted and has no real pro track record, but you don’t want to ignore the guy’s potential.

  • What is Luplow’s potential ceiling? He is putting up some big numbers this season.

  • Does the gap between Mitchell and Uselton indicate that Mitchell has a higher potential, or just take into account injury factors, etc?

    • I think looking at the swing and you can see Mitchell’s swing is easier to translate to upper level and have success, while Uselton’s has much of a risk, though maybe higher power potential. Also I think Mitchell has better defense and speed??

      • Don’t know about speed but I thought I read that Uselton is a much better defender??

    • I really like what I’ve seen from Mitchell, to the point where I was tempted to put him at the top of that third tier. John wrote an article about how he looked like a first round talent who dropped to the second round, and I really believe that after seeing him.

      When comparing the two players, I think Mitchell gets an edge in athleticism. I have only seen Uselton for one game, so I can’t do a comprehensive view of the swings, but I like what I’ve seen from Mitchell. We didn’t really penalize Uselton much for the hamstring tear, but he hasn’t really had much of a chance to show what he can do yet. That has been the big difference. Mitchell has shown enough to impress and look better than his draft position. Uselton hasn’t had that chance.

      • I’d add in that Uselton is almost a year older than Mitchell, so he is old for a HS draft pick (Mitchell is avg for a HS pick). The missed development time doesn’t help his case, but doesn’t hurt that much in the rankings.

  • I’ll be answering any questions about the rankings or any player in the rankings throughout the day here in the comments.

    • First of all – this is awesome. No longer will I have to scroll all the way down to the box scores to view certain prospects stats in the Prospect Watch. This saves me all kinds of time.
      The first name that jumped out at me was Travis MacGregor all the way down at #40. He seemed like one of those guys that was maybe either a late bloomer or maybe the Pirates knew something other teams didn’t. You guys know him as well as anyone. I take it his ceiling really isn’t that high after all?

      • It could be. I’m encouraged by the progress he has made in the last month with his control. But I also tracked him throughout Extended Spring Training and saw some concerning issues with that control. If he continues the trend in the last month, he will move up in the rankings.

    • Tim, does McGregor’s drop speak to new rising prospects or questions about projection? Great stuff as always!

    • IF TG was still eligible for this list, would you have him in Tier 1 still given his results this year?

      • If he was still eligible, he would’ve pitched in the minors the majority of the year. Given how he’s dominated AAA batters, I’d have to assume he’d be the top prospect, if his major league results had never happened.

        • Scott Kliesen
          July 19, 2017 8:02 pm

          I guess what I’m really asking is he more highly ranked than Keller at this point in time?